Облачный Край

Свободы захотели?

Russia Country of Origin: Russia

Свободы захотели?
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: 1991
Label: Melody
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy, Progressive
1. Тайный член
2. Не совалась бы ты, девочка, в политику
3. И на самого крутого парня всегда найдётся пуля
4. Отходная
5. Впечатления от посещения памятника идеям Чуч-хэ
6. Свободы захотели?
7. Девушка и вампир
8. Русская народная
9. Подымайся, народ русский, на бой с идолищем поганым!
10. Возвращение казаков из дальнего похода

Review by John B. on January 16, 2022.

Man, I love these guys! Oblachny Kray spent the 80s churning out bizarre spacey progressive rock that used self-deprecating absurdity as a weapon against stale latter-day Soviet censorship. Свободы захотели? is their only album that fully crosses over into heavy metal. But thankfully they don’t abandon the off-the-wall spasmodic quality that made them so endearing in the first place. The best word to describe this album, is Russian. Everything about it just drips with Russianness, from the cartoonish Stalin character on the album cover, as much as every feature of the music both instrumentally and vocally.

While Свободы захотнли? is OK’s most cleanly produced album to date, Sergey Bogaev’s guitars still retain enough of a fuzzy edge to firmly identify it as part of the then-fledgling Soviet metal scene. And the songs themselves, especially the title track and 'Русская народная' have such a charming repetitive simplicity that they feel like metalized versions of Russian peasant tunes. That said, simple is far from stupid. Album closer 'Возращение казаков' shows Sergey flashing such an astounding vibrato passage, that I have to check to make sure he’s not picking up a balalaika instead. It’s a very unique sound that’s both culturally evocative and technically demanding at once.

Nikolay on the keyboards does a similarly wonderful job of straddling the border between intentionally uber-Russian kitsch and a serious proud service to his nation’s musical heritage. On one hand, there’s the silliness of 'Впечатления от посещения памятника идеям Чуч-хэ', which has some choppy piano playing that I suppose is meant to simulate that peculiarly Russian style of accordion polka. Nikolay does some of this on the title song too, and I can’t refrain from smiling. And then there’s the softly haunting keys that lurk under the album’s fastest and heaviest riffs on 'Подымайся, народ, на бой с идолищем поганым' (Rise, nation, to war with the pagan idols!) Keys in this song are very stirring, while also neatly tying in with a similar pattern in the opening song. So though it may seem, with all the oddball synth, wide mix of tempos and emotions, and even the occasional telephone ringing just because, that OK are just having a goof; in fact that’s all part of the act. These guys know wha they’re doing.

Of course no OK album can be properly discussed without talking about Oleg Rautkin’s hilariously extra-Russian vocals. Picture a typical burly Cossack in a giant trenchcoat and ushanka cap, then imagine what his singing voice would be like. That is Oleg - a deep bearlike roar that could only be Russian. But he does a couple other styles too, like the dramatic spoken intro to 'И на самого крутого парня всегда найдётся пуля'; and the goofy exaggerated horror score of 'Девушка и вампир' which is a lot like Brocas Helm’s “Ghost Story”.

The album’s title means “do you want freedom?” and fittingly appeared just as the Soviet Union was sliding into collapse. And the only answer to that question must be YES! This is pure “we will do what we like” metal at its finest; so you have to approach it with a wholly free and open mind just as the musicians themselves did. OK are the pinnacle of the 3 F’s of the heavy metal spirit: they have fun, they have finesse, and they give no fucks who’s in their way.

Rating: 9 out of 10